Sharing Economy

The Sharing Economy and Municipalities

by Derrick Koenig

Sharing, One of the Oldest and Most Universal Instincts

“It can create new and exciting economic opportunities, facilitate knowledge sharing and enhance networks with other cities, political institutions and civil society.” Sounds great right; so what is ‘It’?

Is it possible that the change we are looking for in our communities, municipalities or even the world could be as simple as reverting to the age-old practice of sharing? While I am not naive enough to believe that simple sharing is the answer to the complex issues faced by society today, I do believe that sharing can be simple and produce significant benefits to those who embrace it.

The Sharing Economy and Municipalities

Navigating the sharing economy: A 6-decision guide for municipalities, issued by the City of Guelph in August of 2017 provides an excellent staring point for any municipality faced with navigating the recent onslaught of ‘sharing economy’ businesses.

I believe one of the most significant quotes from this guide can be found on page 25:

Those municipalities that choose to respond now to this shifting landscape have the greatest freedom to shape how the sharing economy evolves at the local level, taking into account the local context and local needs. A well-crafted, deliberate approach can maximize the benefits that sharing initiatives bring, reduce uncertainties and mitigate potential concerns. It can create new and exciting economic opportunities, facilitate knowledge sharing and enhance networks with other cities, political institutions and civil society.

6 Decisions To Consider:

1. What type of approach is most appropriate?

  • reactive
  • proactive
  • monitoring and assessment

2. What are the primary public policy goals?

  • economic development/employment
  • environmental
  • consumer choice and protection
  • community development/social
  • service delivery innovation

3. What type(s) of sharing will be included?

  • for-profit
  • mission driven

4. What kinds of policy actions or tools are needed?

  • actively promoting sharing
  • making assets available for sharing
  • monitoring the impact of sharing and level of participation
  • convening stakeholders
  • providing financial incentives for sharing
  • participating in sharing
  • enabling the sharing economy
  • delivering services on a sharing economy model
  • setting regulations on sharing

5. Design considerations

  • governance
  • enforcement
  • dispute resolution

6. Implementation and evaluation?

  • setting limits on sharing activities
  • requiring data sharing arrangements (between sharing economy platform and City and/or third party)

It is true that sharing has been around for millennia, and that several factors have driven the current boom in sharing initiatives. One factor is the surplus of assets and another is of course technology. I firmly believe that the true global game-changer is the sharing of digital information. Sharing cars and sleeping spaces impacts our daily lives. Sharing information can transform the world.

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